Zombie Land Saga's Lily Becomes Example in U.K Parliament Talks on Twitter Abuse
posted on by Andrew Osmond
The collision of cute anime characters and toxic furious arguments may be old news to anime fans, but on Wednesday it reached Britain's Parliament. It culminated in the extraordinary sight of a Scottish MP flourishing a picture of the character Lily Hoshikawa from Zombie Land Saga combined with an obscene slogan. As she held up the picture, the same MP—Joanna Catherine Cherry QC of the Scottish National Party—used even worse obscenities in order to demonstrate the swamps of Twitter discourse.
The strange scene is on this video on the parliamentlive.tv site, with the specific moment at 15:43:15. The background, however, is complicated.
A couple of days earlier, a British author and journalist named Helen Lewis, who is the deputy editor of the political journal New Statesman, got into a spat with well-known pro gamer and self-identifying furry SonicFox, also known as Dominique McLean. McLean had posted a Tweet making clear his opinion of "TERFs" (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). McLean's Tweet, which appears to have been since deleted, depicted a male game character beating up a female game character, captioned, "What I do to TERFs."
In a further wrinkle, the character who was shown being attacked in McLean's Tweet was Sonya Blade in the game Mortal Kombat 11. This character was voiced in the game by female wrestler Ronda Rousey, who has made controversial comments about trans wrestler Fallon Fox, and has been accused of being transphobic.
According to Helen Lewis' own later account in the New Statesman, where she makes plenty of controversial comments of her own, Lewis accused McLean of glorifying misogyny. Lewis argues that TERF is a slur used against women beyond its original meaning and accuses those that perpetuate it as giving in to an "old impulse towards woman-hating, but [they] won't admit it, and have convinced themselves they are only chastising the impure. Witch-finders did something similar in the 17th century." In return, McLean accused Lewis of being a "TERF" herself. Other people on Twitter then attacked Lewis, including one who sent her an obscene Tweet featuring Lily from Zombie Land Saga.
Lewis retweeted this herself, adding her own comment: "The implied death tweet is one thing, but god, does it have to be so *twee*?" The picture (crudely) combines the smiling Lily with a "real" photographed hand holding a gun.
The character Lily from the anime series was revealed to be a trans girl.
It was this Tweet that was directly referenced by Joanna Cherry MP in the Human Rights Committee Q&A in Parliament, held on May 1. Cherry was questioning Katy Minshall, Twitter's Head of UK Government, Public Policy and Philanthropy, on the subject of the abuse of women on Twitter. In the Parliament video, the main discussion of the Tweet is from 15:39:17 onward, but the crowning moment—surely one of the strangest public representations of anime in history—is from 15:43:15, containing extremely offensive language.
Cherry holds up the picture and quotes it as "Shut the f*** up, c***," instead of the image's text which reads "Shut the f*** up, TERF".
McLean responded to the parliamentary talks on Twitter and addressed Lewis' editorial on May 1. He argued, "You still don't address the actual abusive nature of TERFs in general, and keep presuming it as some kind of identity when it's just another hate group that people, BOTH men and women alike subscribe to.
"TERFs are things both men and women subscribe to alike (I know this as you sent a bunch at me) and the fact that you made it only about women makes you really f***ing disingenuous. And I will continue to stand up to actual abusers like you and your followers in power," McLean wrote.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history